SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:FAMILY, FRIENDS and well-wishers of five retired educators of Ensom City Primary School in Spanish Town, St Catherine exuded much pride and satisfaction as the stalwarts were lauded at an appreciation ceremony held this week at the institution.
Heading the list of awardees who gave a combined 175 years of invaluable service to the profession was retired principal Stanley Jones. The others were Ruby Kerr, Alpha Parker-Sharpe, Gloria Hall and Elaine James.
The event, themed 'Honouring Our Stalwarts: Service, Strength, Love and Loyalty,' was laced with a breathtaking dance, eloquently delivered choral speech items and impeccable drumming.
Jones entered the profession at age 17 as a probationer at Bois Content All-Age School in St Catherine. Prior to his sojourn at Ensom City Primary in 1976, he taught at Marlie Hill and Davis All-Age schools, as well as Cassava River and Tulloch Primary schools, in St Catherine.
In a citation read by Kaydian Anglin, Jones, the holder of a Master of Arts in pastoral psychology and counselling, was hailed as a dedicated educator, visionary and nation builder, who gave generously and unreservedly to the field of education for 43 years.
"While executing his role as principal, he significantly raised the standard at this institution," the citation read. "His visionary ideas propelled the institution to enter new territories, thus capturing several awards and recognition for the institution at the local and international levels," Anglin cited.
In delivering Kerr's citation, Tracey Ann Taffe noted that the alumnus of West Indies College - now Northern Caribbean University - and Moneague Teachers' College, worked assiduously to contribute to the holistic development of the students who were placed in her care.
"With every lesson you taught, you became a role model, a little beacon that inspired each child to dream in beautiful colours as you did and not in dim black and white as the harsh reality of the Jamaican society sometimes forces us to," read Taffe. "You helped them to realise that their dreams could only become a reality through hard work and determination."
A graduate of Bethlehem Teachers' College, Parker-Sharpe, who began her journey at Ensom Primary in 1987 before retiring in August last year, was hailed as a motivator who not only inspired her students, but created a comfortable learning environment.
"You were a great facilitator. You implemented strategies in order to transfer knowledge and academic empowerment to your students," Jodi Reid read from the citation to Parker-Sharpe. "You did your duties diligently and treated all the students equally. You were not a chalk-and-talk teacher, but you made sure that the environment was attractive and conducive to learning."
Hall became a pretrained teacher in 1971 and did short stints at her alma maters Ginger Ridge All-Age and Marlie Hill Primary schools. She formalised her training at Moneague and Mico Teachers' colleges.
"During her tenure at Ensom City Primary, Hall exhibited a meticulous and exemplary attitude towards her job. She was renowned for her punctuality, regardless of the starting time of her shift. She was a passionate, engaging, motivating, no-nonsense professional," cited Donna Meikle-Douglas.
James, a Miconian who began her sojourn in 1969 as a pretrained teacher at the Bethany All-Age School, joined the staff at Ensom City Primary in 1982.
Greg Rhule, who presented her citation, highlighted the invaluable contribution of the native of Manchester who served the institution in various capacities, including classroom teacher, director of the school's feeding programme, and the performing arts teacher.
"Your zest, knowledge, courage and dedication to teaching were executed with a high level of proficiency. You always sought the best way to deliver your content, with the aim being that the students must understand," read Rhule.
Like Parker-Sharpe, Kerr, Hall and James, Jones expressed gratitude for the accolades.
"It's an awesome occasion. It's good to know that, after you have worked, there are those who appreciate your service and would want to say thanks to you publicly . So, I greatly appreciate what has been done here for us today," he told The Gleaner.
In addition to the outstanding educators, 18 persons received long-service awards including principal Pauline Banton, while three persons were recognised for voluntary service to the institution.
Retired education officer Esmilda McKenzie who delivered the main address, heaped praises on the honorees for their unselfish service and immeasurable contribution to the teaching profession.